Movie Review: David Ayers 'The Tax Collector' Is Entertaining But Way Too Heavy Handed
Directed by: David Ayer (Suicide Squad, Training Day)
Starring: Shia LaBeouf (Disturbia), Bobby Soto (The Quarry)
Synopsis: A gang which forces all other gangs to pay taxes in a really gang stuffed community comes up against a newcomer who wants to violently disrupt gang business........GANG!
David Ayer is the definition of hit and miss. 'Training Day' is one of my all time favorite films. 'End of Watch' is one of the best cop films of the past twenty years. He has a talent to really put you in the middle of the street at night alone and feel like a bunch of really bad dudes are chasing you. It's a gift. A really fucked up and specific gift.....but a gift. I'd love to see Ayer take his talents to the horror genre. He's a director who's films have their own trademark, which I really do appreciate for better or worse.
When he misses though, it's a lot like Rob Zombie in that someone should have been there to reign him in a bit. Films like 'Sabotage', 'Harsh Times' and now 'The Tax Collector' where characters go from intimidating to caricatures and moments go from visceral to stereotypical. I REALLY wish that didn't rhyme. Much like what you just read, there are several eye rolling moments of dialogue in these films where things constantly jump from edgy to tacky. Like a good CD that just won't stop skipping. Yes, I am older than dirt.
Even with the corny tropes and a lot of really inexperienced acting, 'The Tax Collector' is entertaining enough in spots. There's a couple of nicely filmed action scenes followed by some gnarly makeup effects thanks to the likes of Christopher Nelson (Halloween) and his team. Shia LaBeouf is just weird enough to be interesting. You have to appreciate the artistry to which he gave himself to this role because even when he's spouting shit like, "I'll ride with you till' the wheels fall off!" he's just so goddamn dead serious and weird anyways that it kind of works out.
I'm a bit confused why Ayer so often wants us to root for characters that are actually really, really awful people. 'Training Day' worked so well because you had Ethan Hawke's innocence to contrast Denzel Washington's entertaining villain.
In 'The Tax Collector' however, they want you to feel really bad for David (Soto) who's tortures, steals, murders and sells drugs because he has a family and is sort of religious? It's not like the main character is struggling to survive and feed his family, either. He's got a million dollars buried in his backyard but still spends his days killing people? What is there to like about anyone in this film?
5/10 I wanted to love it and it was entertaining at times but ultimately way too heavy handed, bordering on corny in spots.